U.N. chief urges commitment to aid in Haiti's nation building

14:14, April 01, 2010      

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U.N. Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon opened an international donors conference for Haiti here Wednesday by repeating his call for the international community to aid in "nation-building on a scale and scope not seen in generations."

"As we move from emergency aid to long-term reconstruction, let us recognize that we cannot accept business as usual," Ban said in his remarks at the high-level Haiti Donors Conference at U.N. headquarters in New York, aimed at demonstrating the international community's commitment to Haiti.

Under the theme of "Towards a New Future in Haiti," it was convened to secure the financial resources necessary for the recovery and reconstruction of Haiti, where an earthquake on Jan. 12 killed more than 220,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless.

"What we envision today is wholesale national renewal ... a sweeping exercise in nation-building on a scale and scope not seen in generations," Ban said.

With the expected blueprint for a national strategic plan from Haitian President Rene Preval and Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, Ban called for "full and generous support" in the "ambitious" plan for action.

"Our goal is not to rebuild," he said. "It is to build back better."

Envisioning a "New Haiti," Ban noted a Haiti where the majority of people are not deep in poverty and can attend school, in addition to having "better options" without feeling they have to leave the Caribbean country.

Under the new plan, Ban said a new Interim Haiti Recovery Commission would channel 3.9 billion U.S. dollars into specific programs and projects for the next 18 months.

"Over the next 10 years, Haiti's reconstruction needs will total an estimated 11.5 billion U.S. dollars," he said, urging for well-coordinated assistance from the international community, especially continued emergency relief, which he highlighted as food, sanitation, health care, and, most urgently, shelter.

Warning of the fast, approaching rainy season, Ban said the camps for the displaced persons were at risk of flooding with health and sanitation issues growing more seriously.

"I therefore appeal for further support for the Revised Humanitarian Appeal for 1.4 billion U.S. dollars, currently only 50 percent funded," he said.

"In partnership with the United Nations, Haiti's leaders are committing to a new social contract with the people," he said.

Emphasizing "fresh approaches to old problems," Ban took note of investments that create jobs, modeled on the U.N. cash-for-work programs, as well as incentives for Haitians to relocate from Haitian capital Port au Prince to other cities and villages in the country.

"Today, you will rise in solidarity with Haiti," Ban said, addressing the participants of the conference.

"By the end of this day ... I am confident we will truly have helped Haiti along the road to a new and better future," he said.

Preval and U.N. special envoy for Haiti former U.S. President Bill Clinton are among the many speakers that will address the day-long conference in hopes of garnering additional financial assistance in rebuilding Haiti.

Haiti's target for the conference was to raise the initial 3.9 billion dollars, U.N. officials said here.

The total value of damage and losses sustained has been calculated at approximately 7 billion dollars, more than 120 percent of Haiti's 2009 gross domestic product. Haiti was already the poorest country in the Western hemisphere before the massive earthquake.

The conference is co-chaired by Brazil, Canada, the European Union, France and Spain. Representatives from more than 130 countries are participating.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:燕勐)

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